The Local Government and Environment Committee is currently hearing submissions in Christchurch on National's latest bill to extend the Canterbury dictatorship. And surprisingly, local iwi Ngai Tahi wants to deny Cantabrians their democratic rights:
Restoring full democratic elections would be a "step backwards" for Canterbury, Ngai Tahu says.
Ngai Tahu emerged as one of the few groups at the hearing supporting the bill.
It was one of several groups, including Canterbury councils, that asked for government intervention in 2010. The changes resulted in the elected councillors losing their seats.
"The proposal to return to a fully democratically elected model does not provide sufficient recognition towards the Treaty partnership," its submission says.
"It is considered that the proposal would be a step backwards for Canterbury as a number of other regions have moved towards equitable representation for iwi at a governance level."
The iwi supported continuing the mixed model after the 2019 elections, proposing to incorporate three Ngai Tahu appointed commissioners alongside three appointed by the Government.
This is nonsense. If Ngai Tahu is concerned about ensuring iwi representation, it should argue for it. There's more than one way to address that problem, and councils are experimenting with various methods (some have Maori seats, Auckland has a statutory Maori Advisory Board, while Rotorua has an explicit partnership with Te Arawa giving them representation on council committees). There's scope for Ngai Tahu to find a model which works for them. But instead, they're arguing that the democratic rights of other Cantabrians continue to be suppressed and that they continue to be forbidden from controlling their own region. And that is fundamentally anti-democratic and a failure to uphold the Treaty Partnership.